PKL 8: 'Will keep defenders on the toes': 'Hi-Flyer' Pawan Sehrawat ready to trouble opponents with new skills in armory
Pro Kabaddi League 2021: Ahead of the commencement of PKL 8, ‘Hi-Flyer’ Pawan Sehrawat, of the Bengaluru Bulls, spoke about massive downtime, settling in with new teammates, and adding news skills to his armory in an interview.
He arrived, he flew, and he conquered. The past two seasons of the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) were been dominated by multiple star raiders in Pardeep Narwal, Siddharth Desai, Deepak Niwas Hooda, and Naveen Kumar but none of these heavyweights were able to stop the ‘Hi-Flyer’ from soaring to new heights. Bengaluru Bulls' star raider was the highest raid-point and total points scorer in PKL 6 and 7 and after a hiatus of 799 days, he is roaring to pick up where he left off.
Enter Pawan Kumar Sehrawat.
Expert of the ‘running hand touch’ Pawan, who holds the record for the most points in a single match at 39, will return to the mat in PKL 8 on Wednesday, December 22, as Bengaluru take on U Mumba in the season opener in their hometown.
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For a lot of Kabaddi players, the lucrative PKL is their major source of income. Three months of non-stop action not only gives them the right kind of exposure but also helps them financially. Hence, the last two years, during which the wretched coronavirus wreaked havoc and did allow the next edition to be held, was a tough time for a lot of the players and staff. However, the grim situation is behind them and like every other player, Pawan, too, cannot wait to start racking up points.
Pawan, when asked about how much he's missed playing in the PKL in an interview with the Hindustan Times, said:
"Honestly, it’s not possible to describe it in words – I have eagerly waited for PKL to begin. To get back on the mat and compete with such a great bunch of players gives me the adrenaline. I’m playing for the Bengaluru Bulls again, and that’s something I’m excited for too – the team is home to me, and the tremendous support I receive from fans is my motivation."
Talking about he spent the last two years, Pawan elaborated: “Last two years was a challenge, at the same time a boon – I got to spend a lot of time with my family. I knew that at some point I will be heading back to the mat, so keeping myself fit and not losing track was extremely important. I used to practice by myself, worked on a few skills, built my strength and stamina, and continued a balanced diet. I did not travel much, but did visit a few relatives, caught up with friends.”
The 25-year-old had a quiet start to his PKL career in the first three seasons but he broke through the scene in the sixth edition, finishing the league's leading point scorer (282) and subsequently bagging the MVP Award. In the last edition, he topped the tally with 360 points. As a famous superhero, belonging to the Marvel Cinematic Universe" teaches us “with great power comes great responsibility”. Hence, and quite naturally so, expectations will be sky-high from the superstar.
But Pawan says he doesn't let the burden of expectations weigh him down. “I have always said this – I do not take pressure at any point; that doesn’t help anyone. This is a new season – the expectations and preparations are also different. With our coach, each one of us are preparing to face challenges and keep calm while on the mat. My aim is to ensure the team plays seamlessly on the mat in a calm and composed manner,” Pawan said.
-I WILL MISS HIM BUT THE NEW TEAM IS CLOSELY KNIT-
Following the PKL 8 auctions, all teams will sport a new line-up, consisting of some old and numerous new names. Unlike PKL 6 & 7, Pawan will not have his former skipper and ‘partner in crime’ Rohit Kumar on the same side of the mat as he has moved to Telugu Titans. Pawan admitted that he will miss his “good friend”.
“Rohit is a senior player and a good friend; I will definitely miss raiding with him. We are ready to face each other as opponents as well, in a healthy competition,” said the raider.
The challenge for any management in a multi-team league is to ensure team harmony and team bonding. Players hail from different backgrounds and especially after an auction, it becomes imperative for everyone to gel together. Talking about the arrivals of star players like Abolfazl Maghsodlou Mahali, Chandran Ranjit, and Deepak Narwal, and the process of settling down with each other, Pawan explained:
“Coach and management have taken efforts to ensure that we come together as a team and face our competitors. For this, we have had group sessions, team building activities where we have got to know each other better on a personal level, duo sessions that help in ‘taal mel’ on the mat. We are friends, and the team is close-knit – this will be seen on the mat as well.”
-ADDED NEW SKILLS, CONFIDENT OF WINNING THE TITLE-
The massive downtime gave the players to add new skills to their armory and the fans can expect a lot more from the swashbuckling raider in the upcoming season.
“(Adding) new skills and techniques is very important for any raider – otherwise you become very predictable. Coach sir and I have worked on some new skills in terms of speed, and a few techniques that will keep defenders on their toes,” Pawan sounded a subtle warning to his rivals.
The Bulls fell agonizingly close to the title, losing 38-44 to Daban Delhi. While the defeat was painful, Pawan is confident of making it all the way this year.
“We have a well-balanced team and have been practicing and working on multiple layers of skills, techniques, fitness and stamina. With this level of preparation, we are confident of reaching the finals and winning the title this year,” he concluded.
Due to the Covid-19 related complications, this PKL, which has enthralled the fans around the country with its caravan format, will be conducted at the Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel and Convention Centre in Bengaluru without spectators.